Bernard Tomic has told the on-court umpire that he’s certain to test positive to COVID-19 after making a typically bizarre start to Australian Open qualifying.
Sporting a peroxide blond hairstyle, the new-look Tomic dished up his usual antics on Melbourne’s Kia Arena on Tuesday in his match against rising star Roman Safiullin.
Tomic made a speedy exit, losing to the match-hardened Russian 6-1 6-4 in just 57 minutes.
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Trailing 1-2 in the second set, Tomic told umpire Aline Da Rocha Nocinto at the change-over he thought he had the virus.
“I’m sure in the next two days I will test positive, I’m telling you,” the 29-year-old said from his chair.
“I’ll buy you dinner if I don’t test positive in three days, otherwise you buy me dinner (to the umpire).”
Tomic told her he couldn’t believe there was no official PCR testing for players, with only a rapid test required.
“They’re allowing players to come on court with rapid tests in their room, c’mon … no official PCR testing,” he said.
Another Australian, Nick Kyrgios, had to withdraw from the Sydney Tennis Classic after he contracted COVID-19.
A lethargic Tomic was seen by the trainer at the first changeover in the opening set and was seen taking his pulse while out on court.
The 29-year-old was broken in fourth game and quickly capitulated, losing the first set in just 23 minutes.
Tomic rallied in the second but Safiullin, who was an unlikely star in Russia’s run to the ATP Cup semi-finals last week, had his measure.
Oblivious to his opponent’s virus claims Safiullin offered a fist bump after match point, which Tomic accepted.
The Australian was unable to attend a post-match media conference to explain his insipid performance with organisers taking a cautious approach after his COVID-19 comments.
Since becoming the youngest player, at 16 in 2009, to win a men’s main-draw match at the Open, Tomic has made the second week three times and reached the third round on four other occasions.
Tomic was the only Australian out of 20 hopefuls to successfully make the Open main draw last year when the men’s qualifying event was held in Doha.
The former world No.17, now ranked 260, hadn’t played in an ATP tournament since September, when he retired in the first round of a qualifier event in Kazakhstan.
In fact, Tomic hadn’t won a set since a first-round qualifying victory at Wimbledon last June.
But he arrived in Melbourne vowing to again climb the rankings.
In other Tuesday qualifying results involving Aussies, 17-year-old Edward Winter had the biggest win of his career, upsetting former world No.6 Gilles Simon 6-3 1-6 6-3.
Marc Polmans also advanced to the second round of the men’s draw beating another Frenchman Geoffrey Blanoaneaux.
First round winners in the women’s draw included local wildcards Zoe Hives who routed China’s Han Xinyun and Taylah Preston, who overcame Japan’s Kurumi Nara.
Seone Mendez downed Brit Jodie Burrage in three sets to move into round two.
© AAP 2022